Rose Island to reopen in southern Indiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Long before you could "kick the sky" at Kentucky Kingdom or get soaked at Holiday World's Splashin' Safari, there was a first of its kind amusement park opening in Kentuckiana. It was called Rose Island-- even though it was actually a peninsula.

"Mr. Rose was very much a marketing person, and he wanted to make it seem a little more exclusive," said Kelley Morgan of Charlestown State Park.

E.B. Rose opened the gates in 1923. That year marked the first time people from the area could experience the thrills of a roller coaster and ferris wheel, get on the back of a horse, or jump in a pool when hardly anyone had one.

Times were good. People drove their Model As or Model Ts from near and far. People in the "big city" of Louisville took the Belle, then known as the Idlewild, to Rose Island's shores.

The great depression couldn't even slow down the excitement the amusement park brought to Kentuckiana, but the great Flood of 1937 certainly did.

"So where we're standing probably would've been under 10- 20 feet of water," Morgan told WDRB.

The flood had a devastating impact, but there are things that made it like a fountain and swimming pool. Those things are now considered artifacts, and the people of southern Indiana will soon be able to see them.

Work has been going on in the now wooded area for several weeks. Charlestown State Park has contracted crews to clear trails.

Blue prints show plans to make a big welcome area, and signage that will be used to show what old landmark you're looking at.

It's all to preserve Southern Indiana history while taking you on a hike down or maybe up memory lane literally.

"I think those are the kind of things you don't see anymore. I think it's a wonderful deal," Clark Nickles said.

He grew up in Charlestown-- hearing all about Rose Island from his parents.

"That was the number one conversation sometimes, what they would do on Sunday afternoon on Rose Island," Nickles explained.

He couldn't be more excited to hear about the new plans. In fact, he has such a special place in his heart for it, that he found and bought the roller coaster and ferris wheel from Rose Island at auction.

"You probably couldn't touch them or buy them from me," said Nickles.

The park meant that much to him, and to many others who will be able to put a place with the stories they've heard for years.

The Grand re-opening of Rose Island is set for late spring of 2015.

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